How Cold Is Too Cold To Go Tent Camping?
The weather is getting colder and colder with each passing day, but you’re not ready to say goodbye to camping season just yet. If you’re an avid camper, you might be wondering, “How cold is too cold to go tent camping?” Below, we explain what temperatures are safe—and unsafe—for camping, as well as what you can do to keep warm during winter trips.
40° F and Under Is Too Cold
Ultimately, the answer comes down to your personal tolerance levels. But most pro winter campers agree that 40° F (4° C) is when things start to get uncomfortable.
At 40° F, you’ll start to feel the chill. It won’t be unbearable, but you’ll want to have a thick coat and warm sleeping bag on hand. A temperature of 30° F (-1° C) is also tolerable, but you’ll need better-than-average gear to stay warm. Most folks nope out at around 20° F (-6° C). Without the right gear, you’ll be shivering in your boots and prone to potentially fatal conditions like frostbite and hypothermia. Anything below 20° F is, without doubt, too cold to go tent camping. At these temperatures, the effects of frostbite can kick in in under 30 minutes. Besides, you’ll be so miserably cold that you won’t be able to enjoy your trip anyway!
What Gear Can Help You Tolerate the Cold Better?
Not deterred by the bitter winter weather? We’re not saying you should never go camping in the winter, just that winter camping requires extra preparation and caution. If you plan to camp in temperatures below 40° F, we recommend investing in several layers of breathable woolen clothes, sleeping bag pads, and an insulating four-seasons tent. A portable heater is another beneficial item to have. Just ensure the one you get is marked as “indoor-safe,” otherwise it could set your tent ablaze! You want heat, but not that much heat.
When to Ditch the Tent
Tents are the classic camping shelter, but they’re not the best at shielding you from inclement weather and extreme temperatures. If you want to try winter camping but know you don’t tolerate the cold well, consider using a sturdier shelter that can keep the rain, wind, and snow out, like a hard-shell tent or camper.